Submitted by Penny Howard, Friends of Spanaway Lake.
Proposal website: https://www.piercecountywa.gov/7845/Pierce-County-Village
The board of Friends of Spanaway Lake (FOSL) takes this opportunity to address the fervent opposition to Pierce County’s proposed plan to construct a permanent micro-city for chronically homeless located in the middle of a federal and state identified wetland complex. This wetland site is protected per federal and WA State codes. The county’s village proposal relies on septic tanks for the 300-400 permanent homes. FOSL opposes the installation and use of septic systems located at the head waters of Spanaway Lake. Pierce County Spanaway Lake Technical Memo (Executive Summary) based on the Oct. 2014-2015 lake analysis stated pollutant sources of which there are 4 to Spanaway Lake, SEPTIC SYSTEMS are a major contributor…septic systems installed in shallow groundwater areas close to the lake contribute Phosphorous (P) and have the potential to contribute fecal coliform bacteria to the lake via ground water transport.
Hence we have these 3 requirements for the development to maintain lake water quality:
- The project, if in its proposed location near the lake, must be connected to the nearby sanitary sewer line that serves the Coffee Creek Condos, or the equivalent other sewer connection. Adding up to 400 housing units on septic would immediately add a huge P load to the lake with disastrous effects adding to the P load from 160 lakeside homes’ septics and 500-1000 or more homes mainly to south and east who’s septic nutrients are reaching the lake now through decades of ground water flow.
- The storm sewer system for the new facility must be collected and at least made to be connectable to the sewer system if in the future there is any risk or potential for tent encampments nearby or around this village that have potential for human wastes on the ground that could end up in storm sewers as we do not want any possibility of escape of human or pet wastes to the lake.
- Those wetlands provide Iron to the lake as colloidal matter, hence the name Coffee Creek, which binds up some of the excess Phosphorous in the lake. We want it required that the wetlands be maintained so that their positive effect on the lake is not reduced and no negative effects be allowed.
These requirements are based on the following supporting information:
The waters from this proposed wetland complex, in addition to the related water shed and subsurface ground water flow drains directly into Spanaway Lake and the lake discharges to the Clover Creek basin. The wetland construction sites, as well as Spanaway Lake are located above a major aquifer to American Lake, Chambers Bay and JBLM.
Please recall in 2017-2018 the Pierce County Council recognized Friends of Spanaway Lake (FOSL) per county Resolution R2019A as the representative community organization for effort to recover and protect Spanaway Lake’s beneficial use for all lake users. Thus, FOSL is a zealous advocate and “human” voice for Spanaway Lake.
Pierce County and FOSL share a decade of meaningful history in their collaborative efforts to identify the health challenges to the lake, as well as identify and fund effective mitigation strategies since 2013. As noted in the Pierce County Management Plan of November 2016, the county initially focused on the decreasing health of Spanaway Lake since 2013, identified toxic algae blooms negatively affecting water quality that subsequently did NOT meet Washington State standards per WAC173- 201a and acknowledged the county’s plan to create “an organizational framework to be instituted to support the ongoing stewardship actions needed to effectively manage conditions of Spanaway Lake”.
A most recent example of citizens creating an “organizational framework” is the 2021 approval by lake front property owners of the Spanaway Lake Management District, resulting in these property owners accepting an additional property tax burden in support of the shared stewardship with Pierce County. 37$ of the lakefront owners signed the petition and 55% of lakefront owners plus those with lakefront access. Voted in favor of taxing themselves to pay for lake cleanup.
Another example of “organizational framework” to support a quality water environment is found within the Pierce County Shoreline Management Plan, Section 18E.30.010 Purpose…The purpose of this Chapter is to avoid impacts arising from land development and other activities affecting wetlands, and to maintain and enhance the biological and physical functions and values of wetlands with respect to water quality maintenance, storm water and floodwater storage and conveyance, fish and wildlife habitat, primary productivity, recreation, education, and historic and cultural preservation. When wetland impacts occur, mitigation will be required to achieve no net loss of wetland in terms of acreage, function, and value.(Ord.2004-56s 4 (part),2004)
Per the above noted interventions/regulations to support, protect and improve the water quality of Spanaway Lake by property owners and Pierce County, are you (Pierce
County) rejecting and recanting all of your previous years of accumulative actions that include expenditure of substantial county and state funds and hundreds of hours of time completing the multiple scientific studies?
For example, In 2013 State Representative Sawyer allocated $400K to Pierce County for the specific purpose to draft a “lake management plan” to address the health challenges of Spanaway Lake. Pierce County Public Works & Utilities and Pierce County Surface Water Management contracted with Brown& Caldwell to conduct an assessment of the lake’s condition and provide options for mitigation. When this funding was expended, more funds were necessary per the multiple and complex requirements per Pierce County water quality regulations. As a result of needing additional funding to complete Pierce County water mitigation requirements, FOSL board members met with and secured additional funds from Senator Conway. Conway was extremely vocal when stating “Spanaway Lake is the gem of Pierce County”.
If Pierce County moves forward with this site plan as is, will not all of the combined efforts over the past 9.5 years of private groups, state, and county leadership become meaningless and inconsequential?
FOSL, with the majority of lake front property owners strongly agree that the proposed village location that is dependent upon a septic tank system will be a negative and long-lasting detriment to the water quality of the lake, the wildlife and the healthy recreational use of the lake.
Signed FOSL lake board
Sandy Williamson, chair